If Wayne Rooney's performance against Chelsea proved anything, it was that Sir Alex Ferguson was right to omit the Manchester United forward from his starting line-up against Real Madrid last Tuesday.
Just when he needed an eight out of 10 performance, Rooney could do no better than a six. It was a missed opportunity to remind us all why he is United's highest-paid player and the one who, despite his failings on the international stage, remains England's talisman going into this month's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
Rooney will not be expected to fulfil more media obligations than his team-mates, the Football Association insisted in response to Ferguson's claims that the player does too much commercial activity when he is on England duty.
Still, these are turbulent times in Wayne's world. If Rooney remains a United player next season, as Ferguson insists he will, he risks becoming the highest-paid utility player in the country.
There is no escaping the fact that the 27 year-old is no longer the player he was, or indeed should be, and that reality is a painful one for somebody once billed as the "golden boy of English football" by Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Dropped against Real, this was Rooney's opportunity to prove a point to Ferguson by dominating this FA Cup quarter-final tie against Chelsea and, in the absence of the rested Robin van Persie, restate his case to be regarded as United's main man, the one who makes the difference when the team are in need of inspiration.
But after his first touch of the game bounced heavily off his chest and out for a Chelsea throw-in, Rooney set the tone for a performance which did little to dispel the doubts over his value to this United team.
In fairness to Rooney, his first-half goal, when his free-kick drifted into the net via a flourish of David Luiz's curls, took his tally to 15 this season, so his goalscoring statistics have not exactly fallen off a cliff.
But there is something missing from the Rooney package. The energy, the explosive bursts forward, the vision.
Maybe we are expecting too much of Rooney to think he can reproduce the audacity of his younger years but, at 27, he should not be having to defend himself against the valid accusations that his frame is as heavy as his touch has become.
As he showed against Norwich last week, when he scored a stunning 30-yard goal in stoppage time, Rooney still possesses the ability to turn back the clock, but such examples are becoming increasingly sporadic.
And against Chelsea, he simply struggled to influence the game from the left-sided position he had been handed by Ferguson.
With Van Persie on the bench, Rooney had to stand aside as Javier Hernandez led the line on his own and the Mexican's tenacity and willingness to chase down defenders and pressurise Luiz and Gary Cahill was a reminder of Rooney in his younger days.
And when Hernandez was replaced by Van Persie in the 62nd minute, the Dutchman took the centre-forward role and Shinji Kagawa slotted into the hole between the midfield and attack.
So with his two favoured positions taken, Rooney remained on the left of midfield, out of sight and largely out of harm's way from Chelsea's point of view.
Ferguson gave his word on Friday that Rooney would still be at United next season in response to claims that the player would be sold this summer and went further over the weekend by insisting he would, ultimately, be offered a new contract.
But will Rooney be happy to put up with a future as a player who fills in and does a job?
Ferguson's claim that he may have to rotate Rooney and Kagawa in future because of the similarity of the two players hardly bodes well for the Englishman, but he did not do enough against Chelsea to suggest that he should start every game, as he once did.
It was Eden Hazard, the Chelsea substitute, and Spanish forward Juan Mata who made a match-turning impact. They showed the value of quick-thinking and fast-footed attacking players in the final third, but Rooney did not.
So if Ferguson really does see a future for Rooney at Old Trafford, it will be interesting to discover where exactly that future lies because he is no left midfielder.